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7 amazing Canmore winter hikes you have to do

Are you looking for the best Canmore winter hikes? You have come to the right place. 

Located in Alberta, Canada, the town of Canmore is perhaps best known for hosting the Nordic events portion of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

It is also the nearest town to the picturesque Banff National Park with incredible outdoor attractions you’ll certainly want to explore. Banff National Park and eponymous town are often busy in winter and Canmore is a great place to escape the crowds.

Many people stick to the trails in Banff National park. Although these trails surrounding Canmore are just as beautiful they are less-traveled.

Whether you are looking for easy winter hikes or more challenging trails, you are sure to find what you are looking for in Canmore.

If this is your first time going winter hiking, take a look at our winter hiking tips below.

Read on to learn about the best Canmore winter hikes:

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Overview of best winter hikes near Canmore

Here’s a comparison table of all the hikes that we cover in this post. Read on for a short description of all the hikes.

The best winter hikes in Canmore

Distance Difficulty level Route type Highlights
Engine bridge across the Bow River in Canmore Canada Bow River Loop Trail

2.1 km

Easy

Loop

Stunning views of the mountains and the bright turquoise glacier-fed river
Some dramatic views along the trail to troll falls in Canmore Troll Falls and Hay Meadows

3.7km

Easy

Loop

The waterfall – frozen in the colder winter months!
Grassi Lakes near Canmore, Canada Grassi Lakes Trail

2 km one way

Moderate

Out & back

The beautiful turquoise Grassi Lakes
Policeman's Creek in Winter Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

2 km one way

Easy

Out & back

 A gentle hike that is great for spotting local wildlife
Grotto Canyon is one of the best hikes in Canmore in Winter Grotto Canyon trail

2.1 km one way

Easy

Out & back

Frozen creek and frozen waterfalls
The hike to the top of Ha Ling is for sure one of the best trails in Canmore Ha Ling Peak trail

3 km one way

Hard

Out & back

The views from the summit are unparalleled!
Three sisters Canmore Canada Three Sisters Pathway

6.5 km one way

Easy

Out & back

The spectacular mountain views that are visible throughout the hike

Best Canmore winter hikes

Engine bridge across the Bow River in Canmore Canada
The engine bridge across the Bow River

Bow River Loop Trail

  • Distance: 2.1 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 26 minutes round trip
  • Elevation gain: 54 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: Stunning views of the mountains and the bright turquoise glacier-fed river

Short description of the trail

Bow River Loop Trail may be an easy winter hike, but the scenery is anything but basic!

One of the most incredible features of this hike is the river the trail crosses – the cold and crisp water flows from the Bow Glacier and takes on a bright turquoise color.

Make sure you bring your camera – the iconic image of the river framed by pine trees with mountains including the 3 sisters looming in the background is one you will surely want to remember.

The trail is mostly level and well maintained, which makes it perfect for all ages and all fitness levels.

This loop is still rated as an easy winter hike during the snowy winter months in Canmore.

The trail remains clear and well maintained during this time – the only difference is the blanket of snow covering the area and providing an incredible view.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Bow River Loop Trail is easily accessed from downtown Canmore on foot. You can walk on 8st towards the Bow river. 8st changes into Riverview Pl and at the end of this street a pathway gives out onto the bank of the river.

Coming by car you need to follow 8 Ave until it crosses the Bow river. Just across the bridge is a parking lot. You can park your car there.

Where to start the Bow River Loop hike

The trailhead is located on the downtown side of Engine Bridge but since it is a loop you might as well start from the above 2 places.

What people are saying about this hike

This hike is perfect for families with kids! We were able to enjoy the scenery with ours – one of which is still in a stroller.

Conclusion

Bow River Loop Trail is the perfect Canmore winter hike for all ages.

If you’re already in downtown Canmore, it’s easy to access!

Some dramatic views along the trail to troll falls in Canmore
Beautiful scenery along the Troll Falls and Hay Meadows loop (Photo by Eric Johnson)

Troll Falls and Hay Meadows

  • Distance: 3.7 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 176 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The waterfall – frozen in the colder winter months!

Short description of the trail

The Troll Falls and Hay Meadows loop is an easy winter hike in Canmore with a great payoff.

The 3.7 kilometer route is well marked – begin the trail at the Stoney Trail head sign on the edge of the Stoney Parking Lot and follow the signs to find the waterfall.

Along the way, you can enjoy the new handrails and other trail maintenance that was recently incorporated into the trail.

The handrails can help as you approach the waterfall as the area can get slippery throughout the year.

We also advise you to wear ice cleats.

One of the most incredible sights on this hike is the waterfall, which freezes during the colder months.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive to the Stoney Trail day use parking area

Where to start the Troll Falls and Hay Meadows hike

The trailhead is located near the Stoney Parking Lot – look for the Stoney Trail head sign.

What people are saying about this hike

There are a few different options for this hike. We did the Upper and Lower Falls. It’s a popular trail but we did not feel like it was crowded at all!

I took my dog with me when I did this hike and it was great!

Conclusion

This is a great winter hike in Canmore – the sight of the frozen waterfall is one you won’t forget!

The trail gets busier around noon, so it is best to go at bit early.

Grassi Lakes near Canmore, Canada
Grassi Lakes is a great hike all-year round (Photo by Kevin Gabbert)

Grassi Lakes Trail

  • Distance: 4 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 250 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: The beautiful turquoise Grassi Lakes

Short description of the trail

Several trails are leading up to this pristine lake. About 100 meters into the hike, there is a fork in the road with a sign labeling one route as “Easy” and one as “More Difficult”. 

The easier trail to the right follows an old road and is open year-round.

The left trail is definitely the prettiest of the two but it is slightly more demanding.

It has a steep section at the end that offers splendid views on the lake. This trail is the one known as the “Grassi Lake Interpretive trail”.

During the winter it may be closed because of icy conditions as sometimes water flows over the trail. In that case, the easier trail will still be accessible.

That trail will take you through the forest on a packed-dirt path to the beautiful Grassi Lakes.

The lakes and the cliffs are part of an ancient fossil reef called the Cairn Formation.

The Grassi Lakes Trail is located in a provincial park and the surrounding area is a wildlife corridor.

So, if you are hiking on this trail, it is important to stay on the designated pathways.

The trail also gets quite icy, so ice cleats are recommended.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive on Three Sisters Parkway AB-742 to Ken Richie Way in Kananaskis which you will find approximately 2 km past the Canmore Nordic Center.

Turn left onto the Ken Richie Way and head down the hill. Continue driving until you see the Grassi Lakes Day Use Area Parking.

Where to start the Grassi Lakes trail hike

The trailhead is to the right side of the parking lot when facing Ken Richie Way – there is a sign marking the trailhead.

What people are saying about this hike

This trail is beautiful but icy in the winter! Make sure you have spikes on your shoes!

The lake is BEAUTIFUL! The bright blue and green water stands out so much when it’s snowing.

Conclusion

The Grassi Lakes Trail is a popular hike and once you complete it you will see why.

The packed-dirt path is level and well maintained and the sight of the turquoise blue lakes is well worth the journey!

Note that this is a popular winter hike. So sometimes it can get very busy, especially during the weekends.

Policeman's Creek in Winter
Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is a great introduction to the stunning scenery of Canmore (Photo by davebloggs007)

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

  • Distance: 4 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 40 minutes
  • Elevation gain: 76 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: A gentle hike that is great for spotting local wildlife

Short Description of the trail

This raised boardwalk and packed-dirt trail makes for an easy winter hike if you want to experience the beautiful nature that Canmore has to offer.

Start in downtown Canmore, and continue onto a boardwalk which takes you along Policeman’s Creek.

This hike is not only an easy introduction to the beautiful scenery that surrounds Canmore. It’s also wonderful for spotting local wildlife, if you’re lucky you may spot some elk or deer.

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk also provides an easy route to access the larger network of trails that is near the downtown Canmore area.

It can be enjoyed on its own, or added on as an extension to another hike.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

This trail begins in downtown Canmore.

You will find free parking along 8th Street.

Where to start the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk hike

The trailhead is located on 8th Street in downtown Canmore, across from the Big Head Sculpture.

What people are saying about this hike

This trail is possible for all fitness levels. It was a leisurely stroll through downtown and then through the nearby nature where you have great views of the surrounding mountains while still being in time.

This is a really nice walk with a few icy sections on the alleyway stretch

Conclusion

If you are looking for an easy way to get a glimpse of the mountains and local wildlife, this hike is for you!

It’s also a great add on to various other hikes in the area as it connects to quite a few of them.

Grotto Canyon is one of the best hikes in Canmore in Winter
Grotto Canyon is breathtaking in Winter (Photo by Luke Hooper)

Grotto Canyon trail

  • Distance: 4.2 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 90 minutes to 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 390 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: Frozen creek and frozen waterfalls

Short description of the trail

Grotto Canyon hike is another easy winter hike that is located ten minutes outside of Canmore.

The hike initially follows powerlines to the Baymag Mineral Processing Facility, which may be emitting loud noises when you hike by.

Don’t worry, because after you continue along the trail and enter the forest, the noises disappear and you can enjoy the nature that you are hiking through.

About a half kilometer into the hike, you will enter the Grotto Canyon and the path will narrow for a while.

This portion of the trail is unique because it is actually a frozen creek!

Pay close attention to the rock walls that are rising up next to the trail as you walk. If you look closely, you might spot some ancient Hopi pictographs that could be anywhere from 500 to 1,300 years old.

The trail continues past some frozen waterfalls.

It’s not uncommon to see ice climbers practicing their skills on these walls of ice.

Beyond this, is the Inukshuk garden where there is a small cave visible atop a small hill.

Be careful if you climb this – it can be quite slippery!

If you have ice cleats, we advise you to wear them because the path can get quite slippery sometimes.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive from Canmore 11 minutes on the Bow Valley Trail Road ( highway 1A) until you reach the Grotto Canyon Trail Parking Lot.

Where to start the Grotto Canyon hike

The trailhead is located near the entrance of the parking lot

What people are saying about this hike

This trail can be windy and slippery – just make sure you’re prepared for that and you’ll be fine! It’s a bit challenging but definitely a can’t miss trail!

We spotted ice climbers on the frozen waterfall! Such a memorable hike.

Conclusion

Grotto Canyon Trail is not only a unique ice hike but it’s also a walk through time as well.

You can witness historic pictographs, see ice climbers, climb into a cave, and more!

This is definitely one of the best winter hikes in Camore.

The hike to the top of Ha Ling is for sure one of the best trails in Canmore
The hike to the top of Ha Ling Peak is demanding but the view makes it worthwhile

Ha Ling Peak trail

  • Distance: 3 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time needed: 3-4 Hours
  • Elevation gain: 737 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: The views from the summit are unparalleled!

Short description of the trail

Ha Ling Peak was first summited in 1896. Since then, many have hiked to the top and it remains a popular and challenging Canmore hike to this day.

This hike begins near the Goat Creek Parking Lot and proceeds steadily uphill from there.

There are two viewpoints on the way to the summit, where hikers can rest and take in the views of the area.

The majority of the trail is well maintained.

Once you near the top, you will find that the last 0.4 kilometers are quite rocky and considerably more challenging.

It is crucial to have the correct footwear, and in the winter months, it is essential to have shoes and cleats that will help you traverse the icy landscape.

Once you reach the summit, you will be treated to views of the surrounding area, including an iconic look at the bright turquoise glacier-fed Bow River snaking through the Goat Valley.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive west for about 20 minutes in Three Sisters Parkway AB-742 until you reach the Goat Creek Parking Lot.

It will be on the right side of the road.

Where to start the Ha Ling Peak hike

The trailhead is located near the Goat Creek Parking Lot

What people are saying about this hike

This is a great hike! It’s challenging, but we took a few breaks along the way and were able to finish. The trails are good, but if you’re hiking in the snow, spikes are essential!!

Conclusion

This is a challenging Canmore winter hike but the views are worth the climb!

Three sisters Canmore Canada
The three sisters are an impressive landmark in Canmore

Three Sisters Pathway

  • Distance: 13 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 50 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: The spectacular mountain views that are visible throughout the hike

Short description of the trail

The Three Sisters Pathway is a part gravel, part paved route that follows the Bow River downstream.

The trail takes you past meadows and forests as you head towards the Three Sisters mountain village. Throughout the whole hike, you have stunning vistas of the eponymous mountains.

This trail is very level and there is not much of an elevation gain.

It’s a great hike for anyone who’s main motivation for venturing outdoors during the winter is the beautiful scenery covered in snow.

This trail is a great option for those who are hoping to spot some wildlife – during the winter, elks can be seen on occasion from the trails.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Three Sisters Pathway is accessed from downtown Canmore.

Head from 8 Ave to Bridge Rd and cross the bridge to find the start of the trail.

Where to start the Three Sisters Pathway hike:

The trailhead is located right behind the bridge. There’s a small parking lot for the Mineside Trailhead. This is also where this trail starts.

What people are saying about this hike

This is a great trail and no matter where you look, you get an amazing view!

Conclusion

This easy winter hike is a perfect way to experience the wildlife and landscape around Canmore.

Winter hiking tips

Hiking in winter is a great pastime but without the correct gear and necessary precautions it can cause some unpleasant surprises.

Here we share some winter hiking tips

Be prepared

Preparation is the key to make your hiking trip hazard-free.

Keep in mind that mountain weather changes frequently. So we advise you to check the weather forecast before you go.

Tell a reliable person where you are going and when you are planning to get back.

Keep in mind that the sun sets very early in winter. We, therefore, advise you to start your hike early in the morning.

Dress in layers

The weather can be very fickle. We experienced how a bright and sunny day can change into an inclement winter day in a matter of hours.

Although the temperature may feel OK when you start your day down in the village it may be a lot colder if you are higher up on the mountains and exposed to frisk winds.

Therefore, one of the most important tips we can give you is to dress in layers.

Carry the right equipment

  • Ice cleats: Since trails are often icy during winter, we recommend you to bring ice cleats. Here you can find an overview of the best ice cleats for walking or have a look at our best ice cleats for boots post.
  • Bring Hiking poles
  • Winter hiking leggings: Winter hiking leggings are different from your regular tights and yoga pants. A lot of them are designed to protect you from the elements, weather, bugs, sweat, and moisture. Some of these leggings also act as a base layer if needed.
  • Winter hiking boots: Good winter hiking boots are indispensable if you go hiking in Canmore and Banff during winter. Please ensure that you are wearing winter hiking boots with traction.
  • Snow pants: Or some other kind of insulated and waterproof pants that will keep you warm even as you sink knee-high in the snow or accidentally trip and fall.
  • Sunglasses: The sun reflects on the snow and makes sunglasses indispensable
  • Finally, we advise you to bring a warm hat, scarf, and gloves

Conclusion

Canmore is an ideal destination for anyone who appreciates the outdoors. This Rocky Mountain town is well known amongst hikers, and once you visit and experience it for yourself you will see why!

These hikes are beautiful throughout the year, but the winter months are a special experience.

The magic of the snowy landscapes combined with the less populated trails creates a unique and memorable adventure.

If you are looking for more winter hikes in Kananaskis, click here.

If you are traveling during another seasons, have a look at these easy hikes in the Kananaskis area.

Planning a future trip to Canmore? Check out this list of the best 15 Airbnbs in the area.

Can’t get enough of winter hikes? Work your way through this list of Banff winter hikes next! If you are also traveling to Jasper, check out these fun Jasper winter hikes.

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